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ELECTRICITY AND WATER (CORPORATISATION)(CONSEQUENTIAL PROVISIONS) BILL 1995
MR DE DOMENICO (Minister for Urban Services) (10.41): Mr Speaker, I present the Electricity and Water (Corporatisation) (Consequential Provisions) Bill 1995, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR DE DOMENICO: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
This Bill is the first of two Bills which will enable the corporatisation of the ACT Electricity and Water Authority - ACTEW - on 1 July 1995. During the last election, this Government made a commitment to corporatise a number of government business operations, with ACTEW, ACTTAB and ACTION being the first cabs off the rank. The Territory Owned Corporations Act 1990 - the TOC Act - already provides umbrella legislation that applies to all Territory-owned corporations. Totalcare is an example of a government business that has been successfully corporatised under this legislation. It should be noted, Mr Speaker, that such Territory-owned corporations are 100 per cent owned by the ACT Government, thereby protecting the community's investment and ensuring that benefits of corporatisation flow back to the community and the ACT Government.
In recent years, Commonwealth and State governments have embraced corporatisation as an important means of effecting micro-economic reforms in government business activities. The need for reform in the Territory is particularly pressing in view of our very tight budgetary position and the reforms happening nationally in the utilities industry, including the electricity industry. We have to ensure that ACTEW is ready for competition and meets all the requirements that the ACT Government has agreed to as part of the Council of Australian Governments agreement on national competition policy.
Mr Speaker, the principal objectives in corporatising ACTEW are to provide incentives to improve efficiency within ACTEW by setting appropriate performance and accountability targets; to separate the regulatory functions from the company, as it is not acceptable for an organisation to compete in an industry while regulating parts of that industry; to identify and fund accordingly the Government's community service obligations; to allow the corporate body to set itself up along company lines, in line with the Corporations Law, and put it on a comparable footing with other commercial enterprises to become competitive; and to allow the Government and the community to maximise the returns on their investment in such enterprises.
Mr Speaker, in keeping with the TOC Act, ACTEW will be incorporated under the Commonwealth Corporations Law and will be wholly owned by the Territory. The only voting shareholders will be the Chief Minister and me. The board of directors will be appointed by the voting shareholders. Benefits of corporatisation of ACTEW will flow on to most of the ACT population. ACTEW employs some 1,400 people